Normal to have difficulty understanding casual speech until much later?

I can understand nearly 95% of what I hear in such things as audiobooks and documentaries in spanish. However when I hear people speak spanish in, for example videos on youtube, just normal people talking about things unscripted, I have a lot of trouble picking up on more than a few phrases. I was wondering if this comes more from using audio books as a main source for learning, or if it just takes a much longer time to grasp speech spoken casually. I’m just wondering if I should stick with things like audio-books and more 3rd person material which are so much easier to understand or challenge myself sooner reather than later with casual speech. I think also an audio book that is in 1st person would be a good next step.


I’ve had exactly the same experience. TV, radio, podcasts and audiobooks cause me no problems, but conversational speech has always been an extra step up. I guess if I learnt Spanish from day one by hanging around with native speakers this would have been very different, but there we go. With Spanish try and get hold of anything described as a “tertulia”. These are unscripted semi-informal conversations and you can find podcasts in this format on virtually any topic online. If you pick a topic that interests you and about which you already know something this will really help, and it will get you used to casual speech patterns.

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Try listening to podcasts. The COPE series are quite good. You will get used to it. Keep reading too!